Docosahexaenoic acid level of breast milk of iranian women in low fish – consuming and high fish – consuming regions

Document Type : Original Article


1 - Neonatal Research Center, school medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

2 Department of Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

3 Mehr Hazrat Abbas Hospital, Mashhad, Iran

4 - Neonatal Research Center, school of medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran


Objective: Sufficient intakes of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) via breast milk are required for optimizing visual and neural development at early stages of life. Little or no information is available on DHA intakes and levels found in breast milk in Iranian women and surrounding regions. In this study we measure the DHA in the breast milk of lactating Iranian women from low and high – fish-eating regions and estimate their DHA intakes.
Methods: This is a cross-sectional and prospective study done in two cities of Iran (Mashhad and Amol);   10 ml of mature breast milk were obtained from 40 healthy lactating women (selected randomly) at Imam Reza Hospital of Mashhad (a low fish-consuming area) and Amir Kola Children Hospital of Amol city (a high fish-consuming area). The data were analyzed  in two samples by using t- independent test and Mann-Whitney test via SPSS version 11.5 software.
 Results: The  breast  milk  DHA levels  of  mothers  living  in  the  high  fish-consuming  area  (Amol)  were significantly higher than mothers living in the low fish-consuming area (Mashhad, p< 0.01). It can be estimated that the average DHA intake of lactating Iranian women is approximately 184 mg/dl in Mashhad and 307 mg/dl in Amol.
Conclusion: The DHA content of breast milk was higher in high-fish consuming area in comparison to the low-fish consuming area in Iran indicating that the DHA levels of breast milk are influenced by fish consumption.